House on Haunted Hill

on October 29, 1999 by Dwayne E. Leslie
   Billionaire theme-park mogul Steven Price ("Mystery Men's" Geoffrey Rush) loves designing thrill rides and is always trying to outdo himself. So when his wife ("The Faculty's" Famke Janssen) asks to have her birthday party at an abandoned psychiatric institute for the criminally insane, he sets out to make the evening a to-die-for experience. She gives him a list of guests, he whittles it down--but the five that arrive weren't on either list. How they received invitations is a mystery to both the hosts and the baffled guests. Nevertheless, Steven is a good sport and extends the offer of one million dollars to anyone who manages to remain (alive) until the morning. Things go smoothly until unforeseen demonic forces intervene and the staged game becomes deadly.
   To set the record straight, the film takes place in not just any asylum, but an institute where some of the most horrific medical experiments and mass murders in history took place. The evil that pervades the asylum is brought to life using some of the best special effects seen on film; however, all the visual bravura doesn't fill in the gaping plot holes or generate any real frights.    Starring Geoffrey Rush, Famke Janssen, Taye Diggs, Ali Larter, Chris Kattan, Peter Gallagher and Bridgette Wilson. Directed by William Malone. Written by Dick Beebe and William Malone. Produced by Robert Zemeckis, Joel Silver and Gilbert Adler. A Warner Bros. release. Horror. Rated R for horror violence and gore, sexual images and language. Running time: 93 min.
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